Cricket

Smaller counties fear the growing divide with lucrative Hundred venues will render them second-class 2022

Smaller counties: Concerns are growing that the Hundred is creating a new division between the eight first-class counties that host a Hundred sides and the other 10, creating a two-tier county game.

The Hundred, which debuted last year, began its second season on Wednesday. While accepting their place in the domestic calendar, counties are increasingly concerned with the effects of division between counties.

“There’s an undeniable gap and it’s only going to get bigger as the Hundred grows,” said one county chief executive. “It wasn’t felt so much last year when the Hundred started in the middle of the pandemic. The Eight Hundred places will only get richer and richer.

All 18 first-class counties currently receive £1.3 million a year from the England and Wales Cricket Board under the Hundred contract. But hundreds of places are able to promote it with significant additional income.

Each venue received a staging fee of £85,000 per match from the ECB – equivalent to £340,000 over their four home games – with London venues receiving a staging fee of £110,000 per match. Venues also receive a 30 percent share of ticket revenue from the ECB, and some could stand to earn £100,000 per game from food and drink sold during matches this season when crowd sizes are affected by Covid-19. There is no limit of 19.

The total income from these sources relating to the Hundred this season could be as high as £800,000 for venues, with the biggest grounds – particularly the Oval – likely to earn even more. While larger grounds have higher costs – in security, maintenance and upkeep – the additional earnings will far outweigh these additional costs. As such, Counties feared that the Hundred Venices could receive several hundred thousand pounds extra a year to invest in their first-class sides.

Early indications suggest that first-class sides may also benefit on the pitch with a hundred venues. Three of the four teams that made the final day of the Twenty20 Blast – including the winners, Hampshire – are sharing their home ground with the One Hundred. Surrey, Hampshire and Lancashire, the three real contenders for the County Championship title, all host Hundred teams. In Division Two, the three hundred host counties, Nottinghamshire, Middlesex and Glamorgan, are currently the top three teams in the division.

There are also concerns that, over time, more top players may gravitate to first-class teams that have a hundred places, partly because of the belief that playing for the county would earn them a hundred contract. The possibilities will increase.

Counties believe maintaining an effective salary cap is an important mechanism to prevent talent from being concentrated in the eight sides associated with the Hundred teams.

At their meeting on Wednesday, county chief executives met with the ECB for the first update on the High Performance Review into the future of the domestic game. While no concrete decisions were made and the meetings were described as constructive, several counties stressed the commercial importance of retaining the 14-game T20 Blast group stage – with seven home games – to protect their income.

Among the counties, the major debate is over which cricket should be played alongside the Hundred. It has been suggested to play the championship during the Hundred but it is feared that this may devalue the competition. While the Royal London ODI Cup could be retained in that berth, another option, as revealed by Telegraph Sport in June, is regional first-class cricket during the Hundred to help England prepare for Test cricket. have to play This saw England’s top cricketers not involved in the Hundred – including the likes of James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns and Dominic Sibley – play against each other, during which England’s red-ball experts were highly regarded. Quality first-class cricket can be assured. height of summer.

Any change in county structure or schedule must be approved by a two-thirds majority of county chairs – 12 out of 18. It is hoped that any changes could take effect for next season, with a vote expected at the end of the current one. Weather

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